People criticizing selection of Jio Institute only because of prejudices: Former chief election commissioner N Gopalaswami
On Monday, the Union Human Resources Development ministry had said that 6 institutes and three private institutes inlcuding Jio Institute-will be accorded the "Institute of Eminence".
NEW DELHI: Strongly defending the government's decision to pick Reliance Foundation's on-paper Jio Institute for the coveted "Institute of Eminence" tag, former chief election commissioner N Gopalaswami on Tuesday said that the move had invited criticism only due to "unjustified prejudices".
Gopalaswami, headed the four-member panel, which made the selections. Other members of panel included academicians Tarun Khanna, renu Khator and Pritam Singh.
"To anybody who asks me why Jio, my counter question would be why not Jio?" asked Gopalaswami adding that the proposed institute fulfils all the prerequisites that were laid down for Greenfield institutes in the private institutes category.
On Monday, the Union Human Resources Development ministry had said that 6 institutes-Indian Institute of Science, Bengaluru, IITs in Bombay and Delhi and three private institutes-BITS, Pilani, Manipal University and Jio Institute-will be accorded the "Institute of Eminence" status. In case of public institutes, it will mean funding support to help them break into top 100 global rankings while the private institutes will be given freedom from regulations to turn into "world-class institutions."
Gopalaswami told The New Indian Express that in all, 11 applicants-out of total 40 in the private category-were yet to be operational institutes but only "Jio fulfilled the criteria such as readiness, land in possession, feasibility, availability of funds, assurance and other points that were required."
"Their proposal was watertight and very doable," he said adding that other new institutes either did "not have land or the required funding support and did not inspire confidence."
A "vision document" of the institute shared by the HRD ministry had said that Jio Institute, about to come up near Navi Mumbai, has land in possession and promises capital investment of Rs 9500 crore to begin with. Gopalaswami said that the flak that the decision had received reeked of the anger some people have for others more privileged.
"In case of a bike hitting a pedestrian, it's always a biker who is considered wrong and in case of car hitting a bike it is always the car driver who is assumed to be defaulter-I see a similarity between the recent decision and these simple examples," he said.
The former CEC also said that the institute had only been given a "letter of intent" and the MoU was being signed with them on the condition that they will have the infrastructure, campus, faculty in place by 3 years and will be in a condition to start academic activities.
On being asked that the pre-requisite for giving the tag to a Greenfield institute also included "putting in place a core team with very high qualification and wide experience" which was missing in case of Jio Institute, he said their actual presentation to the committee, based on which the selection was made, "had every detail."
According to Gopalaswami, the institutes awarded the tag will have freedom to employ up to 25 per cent foreign faculties, offer up to 25 per cent seats to foreign students and liberty to fix fee structures and courses. "There would, however, be a mechanism in place to ensure that meritorious but poor students are not denied opportunities of higher studies," he said.